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  1. #26
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    If the client is not that helpful, he can't blame you for ineffective results of the job. And I do feel that it isn't right to use stock images for the website. It's simply not being honest with the people and their prospect clients. Simply try ur best to use what you have now. Hopefully the client will realize later that he plays a major part in the success of his website.

  2. #27
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by backlinksrocksta View Post
    If the client is not that helpful, he can't blame you for ineffective results of the job. And I do feel that it isn't right to use stock images for the website. It's simply not being honest with the people and their prospect clients. Simply try ur best to use what you have now. Hopefully the client will realize later that he plays a major part in the success of his website.
    Or rather than giving the gift of "Hindsight" you can let them know at the beginning that while you can design it, program it, and write content for the web, his involvement in the process is crucial to his website's success. You know, when websites don't succeed it's always the developer who is the "bad guy" in the client's eyes. When you lay out all the cards on the table before the deal starts, he can't come back at you later. Let your clients know precisely what you can do to help them succeed and what they need to do to contribute to the success of their website.

    I think that too often, clients look at building a website like painting a house. They pick out the colors and expect the painter to do the rest. Some web developers tend to look at the client/developer relationship as adversarial when actually it is a partnership. The better you can communicate that to your clients the easier the project will go and the happier all parties -- designer, programmer, writer, and client -- will be.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  3. #28
    SitePoint Zealot Lieto's Avatar
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    i think some people here overcomplicate it. If client only "picks up the paint" you are free to do what you want and do it right and thats actually not the worst scenario =)
    If he doesnt bother with text - add more images. etc Some project can get into first pages on native search with the right development without much investment from the client. Few hours of work for copywriter to create nice headlines and its good to go, lets your seo specialist look into it for an hour and tailor it stuff for long tail seo a little bit, even if the client didnt pay for it.

    If its not a 100 usd project i think company should be able to spare 10% of the budget to add some bonuses to the project
    Not saying such approach will fit every company but i always try to give more then i am payed for i guess. Anyhow we must work with what we got, sometimes it will take more time to explain client the need of something then it will take to just do it for him yourself, just make budget slightly bigger if you need to. Its common for many studios i know: you put some headers, texts, benefits as an example and client goes like "hey, thats cool, just let them be on launch version we like it".

    ps obviously not speaking about web sites where content is THE THING. like blogs etc. Would be silly if client didnt realize the need to have good content on his blog and just payed for design xD

  4. #29
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lieto View Post
    i think some people here overcomplicate it. If client only "picks up the paint" you are free to do what you want and do it right and thats actually not the worst scenario =)
    If he doesnt bother with text - add more images. etc Some project can get into first pages on native search with the right development without much investment from the client. Few hours of work for copywriter to create nice headlines and its good to go, lets your seo specialist look into it for an hour and tailor it stuff for long tail seo a little bit, even if the client didnt pay for it.

    If its not a 100 usd project i think company should be able to spare 10% of the budget to add some bonuses to the project
    Not saying such approach will fit every company but i always try to give more then i am payed for i guess. Anyhow we must work with what we got, sometimes it will take more time to explain client the need of something then it will take to just do it for him yourself, just make budget slightly bigger if you need to. Its common for many studios i know: you put some headers, texts, benefits as an example and client goes like "hey, thats cool, just let them be on launch version we like it".

    ps obviously not speaking about web sites where content is THE THING. like blogs etc. Would be silly if client didnt realize the need to have good content on his blog and just payed for design xD
    Pretty silly for a business website to have design and not good content. People don't visit to look at how pretty the pages are. They visit to find information and that IS content. Sorry if this is offensive, but I believe it is quite arrogant to think that you are "Free to do what you want" with a client's website. If you are not building it to represent your client's business goals, then you are doing no good for the client. In order to do that, you need to communicate with your client and help them understand that their input on your work is crucial.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  5. #30
    SitePoint Zealot Lieto's Avatar
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    I think u misunderstood =) Why not? if client doesnt know what he needs you are free to do what you want and suggest him options.
    Most clients will be happy to use what you suggest. Sure if they have their mission wrote down and you just change it the way you like it - thats arrogant but if they dont have anything and you nicely put something like "our mission is to make every man on the planet happy" - why is that bad? If they wont like it it wont go live.

    I am talking about mostly sites with straight marketing goals here, were content is just a "cover" to sell / promote the product or service (thats the majority of the sites we do anyway)

    [edit] i ll give you en example. Lets say your client make sausages and he wants to sell it... but he doesnt have any information and doesnt realize where to get it and why does he even need it.

    - You start with getting their sausages. Taste it. Cook it and make a picture of it. Edit in photoshop.
    - Big tasty picture thats a good start. Add some vegetables to the picture and make it look tasty.
    - Now how does it taste? ... well tastes like meat. Write it down.
    - Make more photo collages.
    - Now we need benefits, why would people buy this exact sausage, photos are not enough. Put an approximate list:
    a) company is 10 years on the market (if its not 10, client will fix the number)
    b) if you order 10 kilos delivery is free
    c) google some standards for sausages in your country. Write it down. Lets say its iso9001 certified
    d) put random properties like "Tastes great when grilled"
    - Company info.. well making that up is tricky so pictures is your friend again. Go to their factory and make dozen of pictures, usually you can find some info about the company there. Here you go.
    - put some happy people eating sausages there.
    - ask your programmers to taste it and give a testimonial. Write it down.

    Here you go, It didnt take you long, you didnt bother client with questions, you dont need to wait till he sends you something, you have no one to blame, show it to client, he will be glad to read what you made up and correct it. Job done.

    Its not the fastest way nor its easiest for you but thats how i sometimes do it when client is tricky.

  6. #31
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lieto View Post
    I think u misunderstood =) Why not? if client doesnt know what he needs you are free to do what you want and suggest him options.
    Most clients will be happy to use what you suggest. Sure if they have their mission wrote down and you just change it the way you like it - thats arrogant but if they dont have anything and you nicely put something like "our mission is to make every man on the planet happy" - why is that bad? If they wont like it it wont go live.

    I am talking about mostly sites with straight marketing goals here, were content is just a "cover" to sell / promote the product or service (thats the majority of the sites we do anyway)

    [edit] i ll give you en example. Lets say your client make sausages and he wants to sell it... but he doesnt have any information and doesnt realize where to get it and why does he even need it.

    - You start with getting their sausages. Taste it. Cook it and make a picture of it. Edit in photoshop.
    - Big tasty picture thats a good start. Add some vegetables to the picture and make it look tasty.
    - Now how does it taste? ... well tastes like meat. Write it down.
    - Make more photo collages.
    - Now we need benefits, why would people buy this exact sausage, photos are not enough. Put an approximate list:
    a) company is 10 years on the market (if its not 10, client will fix the number)
    b) if you order 10 kilos delivery is free
    c) google some standards for sausages in your country. Write it down. Lets say its iso9001 certified
    d) put random properties like "Tastes great when grilled"
    - Company info.. well making that up is tricky so pictures is your friend again. Go to their factory and make dozen of pictures, usually you can find some info about the company there. Here you go.
    - put some happy people eating sausages there.
    - ask your programmers to taste it and give a testimonial. Write it down.

    Here you go, It didnt take you long, you didnt bother client with questions, you dont need to wait till he sends you something, you have no one to blame, show it to client, he will be glad to read what you made up and correct it. Job done.

    Its not the fastest way nor its easiest for you but thats how i sometimes do it when client is tricky.
    Instead of going through all that, why not start with a questionnaire to find out what the client wants to see on his website, what his marketing goals are, the benefits the business offers to its customers, what his customers most like about the business and who are his customers? What if you work strictly on line where the sausage factory is thousands of miles away?

    If you develop a system that puts you in partnership with the client you become his confident and not just an employee. That makes for a successful ongoing relationship, less do-overs, and a smoothly flowing project.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  7. #32
    SitePoint Zealot Lieto's Avatar
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    I thought we are discussing cases when systems doesnt work =)
    Its not rare that you email your questions to client like should we do this... we suggest doing this, what do you think?... here are few more options of... waiting for your answer asap.
    And he answers few days later something like "yes" or "please do".

  8. #33
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lieto View Post
    I thought we are discussing cases when systems doesnt work =)
    Its not rare that you email your questions to client like should we do this... we suggest doing this, what do you think?... here are few more options of... waiting for your answer asap.
    And he answers few days later something like "yes" or "please do".
    An old doctor joke comes to mind. You go to your doctor and tell him you are sick. He says, "Take two aspirin and call me in the morning." In other words, 'if that doesn't work, I'll try something else.'

    Thankfully, most doctors don't do business that way today. They are professionals who use their skills by finding out your symptoms first, diagnosing the problem, and treating the condition accordingly. That's their system. It saves time, stress on the part of their patients, and builds confidence in their skills. As a web-writing professional, it's my system, too.

    If you are diving into a project before you have all the specs. That's when the trouble starts, not because the 'system doesn't work.' it's because you are not using it.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  9. #34
    SitePoint Zealot Lieto's Avatar
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    What system would you suggest to use towards clients who "doesnt understand the need of good content" and reply to your 5 pages of brief with "not sure what does it mean" or they answer "no" to every question in your brief starting from "do you have a logo? - no", "do you want us to create one? - no" and ending with "are there sites on the internet you really liked either look and feel or the way they work? - no".
    =)

    I am a designer not a psychologist, so i d rather spend half a day to draw a wireframe or some sort of simple mock up and try to get going from there rather then solving mysteries in the head of the client or reason with them. I was scared to dive in the projects like that before but it turned out that most crazy clients will just like your mock ups straight away and it will just work that way. I am not encouraging anyone to do the same btw.

  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lieto View Post
    What system would you suggest to use towards clients who "doesnt understand the need of good content" and reply to your 5 pages of brief with "not sure what does it mean" or they answer "no" to every question in your brief
    I think the point Linda was making is that you should sit down with the client and discuss their needs with them, and on that basis make suggestions based on your expertise, explaining these suggestions as you go. Then, together, you build up a spec for the project. By the time you draw up a wireframe, the client should be fully in the picture of why everything is where it is.

    Boag speaks really well on the need to work collaboratively and constructively with clients. I've found some of his videos particularly inspiring.
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  11. #36
    SitePoint Zealot Lieto's Avatar
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    You are absolutely right =) However it largely depends on what kinds of firm or agency you are, if you are "full service" like we are i guess its fine for a client to be like "i dont know anything, i want to sell my sausages, give me options".

  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lieto View Post
    its fine for a client to be like "i dont know anything, i want to sell my sausages, give me options".
    Which doesn't contradict anything I said. What I described is "full service".
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  13. #38
    SitePoint Zealot Lieto's Avatar
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    Ye. we are going in circles but its close =) guess i could TLDR my point with something like "sometimes client doesnt need to understand the need of a good content when he pays you enough to hire a copywriter / marketing manager / photographer".

  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lieto View Post
    sometimes client doesnt need to understand the need of a good content when he pays you enough to hire a copywriter / marketing manager / photographer".
    That would perhaps be fine if the client had no say in the final product. But the fact that clients will almost always have an opinion on the matter, and are the ones holding the purse strings, it's important that it be an educated opinion—based on communication with you.
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  15. #40
    Foozle Reducer ServerStorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lieto View Post
    Ye. we are going in circles but its close =) guess i could TLDR my point with something like "sometimes client doesnt need to understand the need of a good content when he pays you enough to hire a copywriter / marketing manager / photographer".
    Hi,

    We may seem like were are going in circles, but really we are trying to make sure that this is a balanced thought process. Please keep in mind that many people 'lurk' and don't chime in on such discussions, but still read them. If they are not experienced then our answers may help or hinder them. This is also true of people that find this discussion via search engines.

    Experienced clients are easier. This is especially true because they understand the value of what a site can bring to their ROI so they are more actively involved - normally by choice. Not so easy for new customers. Inexperienced customers may not understand the value of what a site can do for them. Clients often will not know what it takes to make a web-site successful.

    IMHO, it is our jobs to ensure they get a site that does provide value. We can belly-ache all we want that they don't give us what we need, but really it is on us to set their expectations, find what value they bring to a site's design (like actually understanding their products, services, and market, as well as terms/ideas common in a given industry. It is also our job to learn about their business so we can demonstrate that we have invested in them; they are far more likely to invest in us.

    If you get a 'new customer' you need to put on your Account and Project manager hats and really sell them what they need and explain things like schedule, risks, important milestones that you or they cannot miss without schedule and cost increases (due to more effort).

    Many people believe their is a low-barrier to get into Web design. i would argue that this is not true because to be really good at our craft we need to understand marketing, people management, clear and regular communication, content requirements, functionality/UX, code and graphic design. Throw in video and audio and then it does not look like such a low barrier. We need to demonstrate value so the customer realizes we fulfill these values to their business. With this trust comes better communication, more sales and generally happier customers. It also lays a bed for problems that occur don't get hyped-up by the client as much as their is a level of respect and trust.

    Steve
    ictus==""

  16. #41
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    Have just worked through a similar problem with a client. Have a heart-to-heart with him & ask him about getting a pro photographer and get the pic's taken. Otherwise get him to select appropriate images (you'll need to steer him to an appropriate source), obviously you'll need to replace images once you have new originals... your client's in a visual business - if they he doesn't want to play ball then you're in the crap because your site won't deliver, and it's your reputation you're flushing down the toilet. If it's going that way, then you're better to agree on price to date, take the money and drop it... You can't be a professional, and work on amateur terms - and the same goes for him.

  17. #42
    SitePoint Zealot Lieto's Avatar
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    That would perhaps be fine if the client had no say in the final product.
    It doesnt work this way for our company. The way we present ourselves to the client — we go project by project telling him how solutions we made in the past brought maximum ROI to previous clients, how did it work etc etc (sometimes we can even guarantee certain ROI for the new client or estimate a cost of a lead for him).

    Not that client doesnt have a say in final product — he may ask to change this or that in texts, or pictures or make logo bigger if there is a reason to do that, but he doesnt have much overall impact on our marketing and design decisions. Sometimes clients either like what we did anyway or they are simply "afraid" to change something (and for a good reason). We ourselves rarely do just one version of landing page, usually we do few, let it randomly show to customers and tailor those that work best based on results we get.

    Lets say client thinks that XYZ should be present on the page and we think that it should be XWASD, we can do 2 pages and show lets say clients version 90% of the time and ours 10% of the time. After a month of usage its quite clear which one is working better.

  18. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lieto View Post
    we can do 2 pages and show lets say clients version 90% of the time and ours 10% of the time. After a month of usage its quite clear which one is working better.
    That's good. Nothing beats actual evidence of the site in use.
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  19. #44
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Millar View Post
    If it's going that way, then you're better to agree on price to date, take the money and drop it... You can't be a professional, and work on amateur terms - and the same goes for him.
    My sentiments exactly. One of the great things about freelance is that, as a contractor, you can choose your own projects and customers. That's another instance where an initial questionnaire comes into play. If they don't answer your questions or give you poor answers, it sends up red flags before you have invested a lot of time and energy into something that's going nowhere.

    You'll find that the people you want to work with are happy to tell you about their business and plans for their website.

    In the design aspect of freelance, if you want to do mock-ups until you are blue in the face, that's your prerogative. It's not like that with writing. Once your copy is in their hands, there is nothing to stop them from using it whether or not they decide to pay for it. All though it's never happened to me, freelance forums are full of laments over non-payment for mockups.
    Linda Jenkinson
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